How to keep calm in pregnancy
Are your changes in mood just hormones or anxiety? More and more women are coming to my pregnancy yoga classes and Calmbirth courses telling me that they’re feeling anxious about the birth, the baby, becoming a mother, what pram to buy, their renovations, their partner…
“I lie awake at night worrying that something’s wrong with the baby.”
“I keep thinking that if something goes wrong during the birth it will be my fault.”
“I don’t know if I’m going to be a good mother and I can’t get bad thoughts out of my head.”
“Will my partner still fancy me if my thighs get any bigger?”
While a little bit of worry is normal because there’s so much about birth that’s unknown, these type of thoughts can affect your sleep and your concentration, make you feel angry or depressed, cause conflict with your partner, and potentially affect the health of your baby.
Mental health is no longer a taboo subject, so if you feel that your problem is affecting your daily life then talk to your midwife or doctor, or if that feels too daunting, ask your partner or a trusted friend to help you work out who to talk to.
In the meantime it benefits everyone to learn some calming techniques and then practice them until they become habit or second nature. Some really simple skills I teach are:
- Give your anxiety a name. It might be “worry wort” or “naggy voice” or “spoil sport”.
- Think about the signs that tell you that “worry wort” is out to play and you’re starting to feel anxious. Do you have a voice in your head? What are your thoughts? Do you feel sick in the tummy or tight in your chest or shoulders? Do you slump, or take shallow breaths? Once you know what to look for, start to notice the signs that you’re revving up for a worry session.
- Once you notice it, you can choose to change it. Here are some simple ways –
Sit tall, hunch your shoulders, breathe in, sigh out and drop your shoulders. Instant relief. Tell “worry wort” to bugger off.
Breathe in and and out through your nose (if it’s clear; otherwise gentle breaths in and out through your mouth). Say to yourself in time with the breaths “Let, go” or “calm, down”.
Smile. Even a fake smile sends a message to your nervous system that you’re safe.
Stroke your cat or dog or partner for one minute. It produces endorphins: feel good hormones.
Go for a 2 minute walk, even up and down your hallway if you can’t go outside.
Do these sound silly? Maybe, but “worry wort” is silly too, and you want to kick him out and replace him with “calm and relaxed”. Choose one, make a tiny effort, and enjoy the difference.
I care as much about your mental and emotional health as your physical comfort during pregnancy and birth. The aim of all my classes is to support every aspect of your experience so that you understand what’s happening along the way and know how to make it the best it can be. You deserve that and your baby deserves it too!
Written by Karen Shlegeris